UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Would you be so kind as to help my son and I with his school project in making bubbles and using mouthwash in them? We decided to use mouthwash because him and his friends always try to catch them with their mouths so we thought why not try mouthwash. He turned that into his teacher who thought it was a good idea for the project and now we are stuck with it. We thought it would be easy since mouthwash (so we thought) was soapy. We found out different. Can you please tell us how to add mouthwash to the bubbles so they are thicker maybe and they still makes them into bubbles? We saw on the TV show “Little Big Shot” with Steve Harvey, a kid had bubbles that he did all kinds of tricks with and the things he was doing it looked like the bubbles were thicker or something. Is it possible to make bubbles thicker so they do not break as fast and to have mouthwash in them? Professor, any help you can give us will be appreciated.
Question Date: 2018-04-08
Answer 1:

Interesting issue, hopefully we can guide you in the right direction. Long story short, its most likely the fact that the alcohol in the mouthwash is destroying the surface tension of your bubble. Try finding a mouthwash that doesn't use alcohol, but there could be something in one of these other mouthwashes that might do the same thing. You do need to add something like soap though for it to work.

For more detail, the first thing to understand is what a bubble is, and why you see them most commonly using soap.

A soap bubble works because soap is a molecule with a part that attracts fat (like butter/grease) and a part that attracts water. Water doesn't really like fat, but in the presence of soap, both fat and water are attracted to the soap, and you end up forming what is known as an emulsion.

A soap bubble works because without adding a lot of extra grease, the fatty ends of the soap will attract to each other, and form known as a "lipid bilayer", where air gets trapped in a thing sphere of water-soap-water. There are pictures of it on this website

here .

Hope that helps guide you in the right direction!


Answer 2:

Bubbles are fun. Mouthwash can have alcohol added, which would probably reduce its ability to form good bubbles.

Mouthwash - Wikipedia

mouthsawh

Jump to Ingredients - Alcohol is added to mouthwash not to destroy bacteria but to act as a carrier agent for essential active ingredients such as menthol, eucalyptol and thymol which help to penetrate plaque.

What happens if you make a good bubble mix and then tiny quantities of mouthwash, starting with just a drop? Also, glycerin makes bubbles stronger. I bought a little bottle on amazon. Do you have a good bubble recipe? The internet should have good ones. We used to use Dawn dish detergent, but its composition may have changed.



Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use